By Maggie Mae…with Ronni Diamondstein
My friend Riley, a Staffordshire Terrier, always walked with his owners Alysa and Bryan Paul. Then one day last summer Riley and the Pauls started walking with a stroller and a little baby named Mason. This excited me, because I love babies. When I was a puppy my owner took me to meet humans of all ages, including little babies, but I had never lived with one. So I decided to ask Riley what it was like and if his owners did anything special before the baby Mason arrived.
Riley told me he had been well trained and had learned boundaries in his home before the baby came to live with them. Now he was happy to have his new brother. The Pauls got advice from Riley’s trainer Gary Pietropaolo, and I listened carefully when they told my master about it.
“Safety comes first,” said Pietropaolo. “Know your dog and whether the dog, especially an older one, will be able to adapt to a baby in your home.” He told them that it may be necessary to call in a professional, who will work with your dog to reinforce the rules in your home and your position as pack leader. “There are a lot of dogs in shelters because they are not good with children,” said Pietropaolo. I didn’t like to hear that, but I knew it wouldn’t happen to me or Riley.
Besides training, Pietropaolo told them to get Riley used to the sound of a baby. “Try to have a friend or neighbor bring over a baby. The dog needs to be acclimated to the sound of a baby crying.” There are CDs with baby sounds and even some on You-Tube. Riley watched Bryan set up the baby’s crib and sniffed it. It also helped to turn on the baby swing and have Riley sniff baby lotion too. Once he got used to the changes and smells, Riley was ready for the new addition to the family.
Before they brought Mason home, Bryan took Riley into the nursery. He dressed a Teddy Bear toy in one of Mason’s Onesies and wrapped it in a blanket so Riley could get used to the smell. Bryan held the teddy bear in his arms just as he would hold the baby.
Soon after that Alysa and Bryan brought their newborn home. Alysa came inside first and let Riley smell Mason on her and know that something was different. Bryan followed with the baby. Following Pietropaolo’s advice, they had Riley sniff the baby’s feet first. The trainer had told them that it was important always to be in the room with Mason and Riley. “My concern is accidental injury,” said Pietropaolo, stressing that they should keep a leash on Riley, even in the house.
At first Riley wondered if the new baby would take a lot of their attention away, but it worked out fine. Riley told me that his owners still spent time alone with him every day and took him for walks without the baby. He still felt a lot of love from them. Not only is Riley good around his baby brother Mason, but Mason is also good around Riley. Mutual respect has to go both ways. And some mutual admiration, too.
Whenever I see Riley he is right beside Mason’s stroller and happy to have the company of Mason and his owners Alysa and Bryan. They are one happy family.
For more information on bringing home babies go to www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/preparing-your-dog-new-baby
Contact Maggie Mae Pup ReporterTM at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggie Mae lives in Chappaqua with her adoring owner Ronni Diamondstein, who, when she isn’t walking Maggie is a freelance writer, PR consultant and award-winning photographer who has worked in the US and abroad.